All this talk and discussion about values, as in Canadian values, or other values, got me to thinking. After all “value” is only a word:


So take the word “value”….please.  How I hate this word. There are so many variations to the theme that surround this word that any smart minded non English speaking immigrant to our country would think twice about trying to learn or understand the English language.  For example, an individual or group’s perception of worth, based upon personal or collective experiences in a shared environment can only define or measure “value”. “Value”” is illusive, as there are more perceptions of “value” out there are there are cars on the road…

 Let me try to exemplify exactly what I mean here:

 In 2005, I picked up my dear ole mother’s car: a 1979 Mercury Zephyr, something akin to a Falcon or Fairmont – Ford only knows.  My mother could not drive anymore. She was 91 for heaven’s sake.  Anyway, the car had about 56,000 kilometers on the O.D.  Mint condition! Lime Green with a sickly, yellowed tan interior.

 Now the market “value” of that car in 1979 was $6,500.00. Twenty-six years later the book “value” was about zilch. The insured “value” – who knows, but the assessed “value” was about $3,000.00 and climbing, as long as it didn’t disintegrate during the long hard winters.  Its “value” would continue to rise in “value”” as long as its condition remains, well, “valuable.”

Obviously my mother held considerable sentimental “value” in that automobile.  As I pulled away from the big city for the drive back to my home town, I came to understand the hereditary “value” of this gift to me and the intrinsic “value” of the trust she placed in me to take good care of Betsy.

I made it back home in one piece although the water pump went out around Tweed.  Between that and thinking about the local Elvis sightings, I was beginning to ponder the true meaning of life and the mechanical “value” of the car as well as the emotional “value” that this machine may have had and its effect on my own sense of “value” and well being. 

Arriving home I thought about its economical “value” as it had taken over a tank of gas to cover the 300 miles from the really big city to my hometown.  Had I been taken for a ride?  Were there aspects of this car that were known only to my mother, the parish priest, her hairdresser and the bagger at her local supermarket?  I had to contemplate its utility “value” considering the other two cars I had. 

Yet, thinking of my dear ole mother and somewhat excited about the possibility of getting perhaps $3,000.00 for the car’s assessed “value”, I thought hmmm, but quickly shook any thought of that out of my mind for if I “valued” my life I dared not even think about selling dear ole Betsy.

Trying to define “value” can be problematic, which in itself is an extremely overused word.  It’s like common sense.  Something that is taken for granted yet is extremely rare in today’s world.  And trying to make sense out of “value” as in “What are your values?” as opposed to someone else’s values is like an academia nut trying to make sense out of common sense and coming up with pure nonsense.

 There you have it. Shakey Jay’s take on…..Value!

 “The problem with theory is that it’s just not practical enough!”

A Religious Refrain

Yesterday’s tidbit about the British Scientist not believing in God got me to thinking.

 Yes religion is based on faith. And whether you believe in God or not is fine with me. That is your right and who am I to challenge that. That is why I get tiffed when famous people start pontificating to the rest of us about various things such as climate change, religion, Black Live Matter, Pride etc.

Famous actors in particular set me off about this as they have a very strong platform given to them to foist their opinions and beliefs upon the rest of us. That is why I no longer watch award shows. I can’t stand it when some famous actor or singer wins an award, struts up to the stage, steps before the mic then broadcasts that they have dedicated this award to the polar bears, or the continued Canadian climate change efforts to curtail the Chinook!

 So here is my religious refrain:*

 …….I sat there in that cavernous church for what seemed like an eternity. And as time marched on my hiccups seemed to get worse. I prayed and prayed that they would stop but no heavenly dispensation came my way that day. I held my breath for what seemed to be minutes but no luck.  Finally I sensed that I was the only young soul left sitting in the pews of the church, still hiccup-ing.  Just then the priest came out from his priest-cave, looked around in the late afternoon sunlit church, with its long shadows and soft beams of spiritual light with particles of floating, flickering dust and spotted me. It was Father Doherty. He was a fatherly Father of our church: nice but somewhat of a lush. Chubby, but not fat, more cherubic like features, weathered and somewhat rustic with a fractured nose and pronounced limp from his athletic days of playing ice hockey for the “Holy Rollers.”

 His robes hung over him in disarray. He was somewhat of a slob, or should I say heavenly slovenly. He always drooled so it was wise to give him a wide berth to avoid the spittle for, as mentioned earlier, second hand spittle was a fate worse than penance for someone as young as me! He had a high squeaky voice which did not adequately personify his physical features.

How did I know he was a lush? Several of my friends were alter boys – assistants to the priest while celebrating Mass. And father Doherty always celebrated the 10:15 Mass. That was the time that the semi-high mass at our church was celebrated.  And one dictum that every young lad or lass in the parish knew was never ever go to the 10:15 Mass. It lasted an eternity. And being a semi-high mass meant more wine at the Offertory segment of the celebration. It was the alter boys job to carry the small carafes of water and wine from a side table hidden from view from the parishioners up to the alter area such that the priest could mix the water with the wine. Only in his case there was no water only wine, and lots of it, in two carafes: one being white to resemble water the other being red to symbolise the blood of Christ. By the end of the Mass, Father Doherty’s limp became more pronounced as he began to slur his words. This was not really a problem because no one in the church was paying attention by this point in time anyway and even if they were they couldn’t understand Latin.

 “Smith” he commanded “What’s the problem”

 I thought that I think it is obvious Father.

 “I have the hiccups, Father, really hiccup-ing bad so I cannot say my hic-up-ed confession with these hiccups.”

 “Come here”

 I obeyed and when I got within an arms length of his massive arms he put his left arm around me, chuckled somewhat and told me not to worry about the hiccups as he led me to the confessional. Perhaps he was impatient for this session to end so that he could run back to his own quarters and watch Tarzan.

 And at that exact moment in time, without a doubt and with no exaggeration on my part, when he slung his left arm across my shoulder, those hiccups ceased, instantly.

 Is this a saintly, canonization, beatification worthy moment? Probably not in the overall Catholic scheme of things but for me it was an experience that I have never forgotten. Right up there with my Uncle Rupert’s guardian angel apparition on that dark and stormy night or my Dad’s miraculous recovery from cross eye-ed-ness at St Anne De Beaupre’s shrine outside of Quebec City. Truth or fantasy? Don’t really know for I was an impressionable and innocent soul back in those days. Cynicism had not yet manifested itself or wrestled away or destroyed my enthusiasm, innocence or naivety as yet. Only happy thoughts.

* Excerpt from my book: “I Thought I’d Died and Gone to Heaven.” 

Home is Where the Heart Is – I Guess *


Back in the day my employment prospects, while numerous, were never really career worthy. So in between jobs, or between a period of steady employment I would sometimes hit the road and do some travelling. My first bit of travel occurred just after working for A.C. Wickman. While working there polishing the fat wide ends of the tiny drill bits I was let go just one day before my three month probation period ended. All of us rookies, who had all started at this factory on the same day, were all released, terminated, let go, made redundant, superfluous, surplus, unused, outmoded, unnecessary….fired. It didn’t matter how or why or what you said to describe your circumstances, situation or bit of bad luck.

It all meant the same damn thing. Pogey! And how I love that word redundant! Code for fired. A nice English bit of linguistic mumbo jumbo, confusion-speak to tell someone that they’re sacked.

“You’re being made redundant” someone once told me. Great! I thought I was getting a promotion.  Redundant… wow.

I decided to head to the west coast. By train! The Transcontinental…all the way and all by myself. Well not really by myself when I got there as my penultimate oldest sister was shacked up with a Japanese fellow. Her best girlfriend, my next door neighbour’s daughter, was also out there. You see, this was 1968, the year prior to the summer of love. Yet 1966-69 was, in reality, the longest summer of love in history. And “go west young man” was really hippie-speak for the wider, greener pastures of acid rain, or West Coast Bud. And I could stay with them until I got settled.

“Why not just stay here and be a stoner” someone once said. “Why go all the way out there?”

“Well, man, sunsets are really, really weird out there.” another answered.

“How so?” they queried. “You can’t see them anyway cause it’s always raining out there.”

“Well man… because man, it’s like, wow man, out of site…but there is no land anywhere west of there. Don’t you think that is sooo cool. Soooo out of site. Land I mean. You can’t see any land man. It’s out of site”

“Well yes” they thought of this stupid idiot. “Land is out of site west of there cause it’s all Pacific ocean from there on in.  Until you hit Japan.”

“Japan? Like wow man! Japan? Really? Man, that is so weird, so cool, that is so profound man.”

Good gawd I thought. The future of mankind!

My parents were fine with this although they were entirely tuned out of the reality of the drug culture. Unbeknownst to them they were letting their young son, at 17, to hit the long and winding, purple hazed road of personal freedom. I can say this now, looking back on those years, but at the time I was scared shitless. I boarded coach on the Transcontinental at the very large cavernous platform of the enormous train station that served my hometown for over a hundred years. I could imagine then and there, at that very moment in time, how the soldiers of the Great War and World War Two felt when leaving the familiarity and warmth of families and loved ones for the trenches of France and Belgium, or the training fields of England, knowing full well that many of them would not be returning to the comforts of home.  Why did I feel this way? Think this way? At this particular moment? I don’t really know but the images of troops on trains in cavernous train stations like this one just seemed to pop into my head for no apparent reason: as if it had been ingrained into my psyche from such a young age that their individual and collective sacrifices paved the way for my very own freedom of choice at this very moment in time. And, as I was waving goodbye to my parents just as the Transcontinental was slowly leaving the station, I could almost see or visualize the spectres of long lost souls roaming about this very station looking for and finding, waving goodbye to their friends, their families and their loved ones for the very last time, for eternity. These willowy images dissipating slowly like some afterthought in a mist of memory in the stillness of time.

It took over three days to reach the coast. I was dead tired as it was extremely difficult to sleep in coach. The scenery for a young lad was extremely boring. Trees, and lakes; trees and lakes; the occasional hill covered with trees then more lakes with trees around them. Muskeg, Muskox and Muskrat – it was rather musky out there with a lot of musky critters running or scampering through the musky forests of trees and lakes and streams. Then more trees and more lakes and more trees and… trees.  Finally, no more trees.  Just flat grassland. A sea, no an ocean of grass. More grass, then a lake, maybe a river bounded by grass on all sides, but no trees, just grass. As far as the eye could see. Grass! Sometimes a small rise would come into view, a small hill covered with grass. I dreamed of grass, of trees, of lakes, of grassy knolls. It was weird man and I was no stoner.

Finally hills, as barren as Sister Mary Anne, my grade school principal, morphed into bigger hills which transformed into very large hills with deep, deep valleys. Valley’s covered with trees. The mountains, the Rocky Mountains: all the granite one could ever imagine. Most people see these mountains as majestic, beautiful, God’s handiwork, a reflection of his power: the very smallness of mankind in full view when measured against this spectacular backdrop. Yet all I could think of was granite. Enough granite to cover every kitchen counter top on the planet. But wait, that wouldn’t occur for another thirty years. What was I thinking?

Mountains, and more mountains, snow covered, nature’s monuments. Mountain passes that scoured a route for the early explorers: Lewis and Clark, Thompson, Fraser, Carson, DiCrapio, Morrison I thought. Unbelievable! Then darkness. What? These idiot trainers scheduled the very best transit, the transit through the mountains, to occur at night? Dopes! And they called us stoners! Alas, we would arrive at our west coast destination in the morning?  Try to get some sleep I thought but in Coach that was an impossibility.

Waking up to a slow moving chugalug train inching its way it seemed into the outer burbs and run-down industrial sites of this so called magnificent coastal city. Magnificent in that it was a large metropolitan area surrounded be the majesty of the coastal mountain range and the Cascades: a nice name for a string of active, dormant and extinct volcanoes.  Think of Mount St Helens, Rainier, Hood, Baker, Shasta and other non descript names for mountains that have the potential of reeking natural havoc, cascading death and destruction on an unsuspecting, unassuming public. These mountainous, frighteningly natural megaliths formed a formidable barrier to the north and east of the city’s metropolis but then offset by the calm waters of the Pacific Ocean bordering its northwest, west and south-western flanks. Only problem with this visual description was the curtain of rain, drizzle and mist that permeated my vision out of the coach’s dirty windows. These titans of nature and the oceanic beauty and seemingly calmness of the Pacific were really just figments of my active imagination in all of this rain, or as a described picture by some nature magazine article I read about the place.

My first impressions were not good. I found the outer fringes of this city in disarray: disorganized, third worldly in its ardour and its feel. Low rise buildings of various sizes and shapes with facades of every colour of the rainbow. Ugly purples, grotesque yellows and grim orange decor trims added to this canvass of dirty grey stucco buildings and rusted out arches and gantries of the numerous bridges that spanned the delta of a mighty river.  With the dreariness of the rain and the drabness of the grey skies these colours and contours were transformed and morphed into a visual scene that reminded me of some hippy’s bad acid dream of an undulating kaleidoscope landscape of a barf induced wasteland. When we finally reached the western terminus of this national journey, and could go no further, a young fellow like me could only sigh a sigh of relief that the torturous three and a half day trek in coach was finally over.

My sister met me at the station then took me to their abode in the downtown core. They had rented an apartment in the City’s west end, very close to the beach of the British sounding bay with water that was so cold as to render it un-swimmable. One would have an extremely difficult time finding one’s privates after a swim in waters such as this. And who was one anyway? Close to that were funky looking shops and high rise concourses that spread their way along narrow streets, avenues and boulevards toward a massive green expanse of a park that adorned itself with towering trees of old growth forest. But in the rain these towering, magnificent giants of nature were mostly obscured by the fog in the midst of a city that was blanketed for the most part of the year by a canopy of clouds and mist.  With all of this rain the buildings of the downtown core exuded a depressed aura of doom and gloom being grey on the mind, grey on one’s thoughts with an outlook of a grey depressing world in the midst of all of this precipitation.  “But at least it’s not snow, you don’t have to shovel it,” I heard over and over again. Yes, but saying this was really a defensive mechanism on one’s part, a sense of insecurity or rationalization by some idiot who chose, regrettably, to live in such a grey expanse of concrete within what is, in reality, an urban rain forest.  After a few days of this I wondered how anyone in their right mind could live here. The dampness of the place was bone chilling and mould worthy.

But then again I guess home is where the heart is.

(c) Shakeyjay 2016

*Excerpt from my book: “I Thought I’d Died and Gone to Heaven”


This is my personal blog. While I have had this site up in my mind and “to do list” for over 12 months now, this is day one. But hey, I live for procrastination – and sailing!

I live in British Columbia. That’s Super Natural BC. Hippie-dom’s last vestige in Canada and probably on earth. Canada’s Greenie Province of protestors and environ-mentals – the wet coast and the left coast of Canada – Birkenstock paradise – land of fleece vests, Tilley hats, granola crunchers, tree huggers, cappuccino suckers, and…Salt Spring Islanders. Long skirts and gum boots. Hoelay Cliche! And, I am also a poor speller!!

The site’s header reflects one of the island’s a great views – looking east – across the beautiful Saanich Inlet, and the rest of Canada. But don’t eat the shell fish here. It will kill you. And you can’t swim in the water. It will freeze your bollicks, and other things, off.

From this viewpoint you can see the Saanich Peninsula in the distance: Cole Bay, Pat Bay Airport, Brentwood Bay and the famous Butchart Gardens (infamous if you suffer from environmental allergies) down the way south a bit. US Gulf Islands in the near distance, beyond the peninsula, with majestic snow capped Mount Baker on the far horizon towering majestically and menacingly over us all. Just hope the big one never comes. We will be screwed. But then again winds are westerly here. Ha, whew! Vancouver and points east??…you’re screwed. Perhaps the environ-mentals can clap their hands and change the plate tectonics, tsunami dynamics and vulcanology …er.. volcanology of the area, just as they arrogantly claim that they can control the weather and climate. If only they could just increase taxes, destroy the economy and donate everything to Gaia. If only they could just…be happy.

I am a retired Naval Officer. Just about 37 years of dedicated, loyal, unadulterated, blemish free service to her Majesty, the Queen. Yes, her Majesty the Queen, I am proud that I served my Queen and my Country – Canada. By the very essence of the military’s left, right; left, right; left, right cadence I am non partisan but I am very relieved that Harper signed my retirement scroll. I retired as a Lieutenant Commander, or a Two-and-a-Half in the vernacular lexicon of naval life.

Writing this blog is somewhat therapeutic. Hope you enjoy it. Please contribute.